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Expect a passionate performance by Stephen Lewis when he comes to Fredericton

by on May 7, 2010

(reposted from

“Fed up rehearsing my part / Gonna wing this one right from the heart / The only place to start / Where I come from.” – “Where I Come From” by Robert Hunter and David Nelson

We are starting to see posters around the city emblazoned with the quote, “I will plunge into it with a full heart.” It is a perfect signature quote for Stephen Lewis, a unique, world leading humanitarian who is coming to speak at the Playhouse June 16.

Lewis will deliver, in the words of Fredericton Committee in Support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation member Mark Arsenault, “a passionate and frank talk on the human condition, rights, and how you can make a difference.”

The son of former federal NDP leader David Lewis, Stephen Lewis led the Ontario NDP from 1970 until 1978. He was appointed Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations in 1984. This began more than two decades of work with the UN which included a role as Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from 2001 until 2006.

Lewis also had a stint with UNICEF, serving as their deputy executive director from 1995 until 1998. Through it all, Lewis has been plunging into things with a full heart. He does so today as Chair of the Board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Co-Director of AIDS-Free World.

When you wing it from the heart, reciprocation needs to follow. Such a connection is obvious here in the enthusiastic backing that Lewis is receiving from an eclectic board of directors made up of people inspired by Lewis – the man and the message – who want to help him inform and inspire. Both Elizabeth Weir, the former New Brunswick NDP leader who is now President and CEO of Efficiency New Brunswick, and James Hughes, the former director of Old Brewery Mission, Quebec’s largest organization serving and supporting homeless people who is currently Deputy Minister of the New Brunswick Department of Social Development, have made their connection in their visits to Africa through the years.

Lewis also leads a day-long session at the Delta Fredericton for the Institute of Public Administration of Canada Fredericton Chapter June 17, and he has been invited by Premier Shawn Graham to participate in the upcoming Premier’s Opinion leader’s Forum on Climate Change. At the Playhouse, though, Lewis will specifically convey his message and his connection to the people of Africa living with the reality of AIDS today. The evening will be all the more widely spread thanks to a technological first.

“An Evening With Stephen Lewis” will take place live at the Fredericton Playhouse at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16. The presentation will be simulcast to Saint John’s Imperial theatre and Moncton’s Capitol Theatre. Costs are intentionally low to allow as many as possible to come and hear the man and the message. Admission is $12 for The Playhouse and $10 for the simulcasts.

When it is boiled down to its essence, what has happened with “An Evening With Stephen Lewis” is the story of a man who has inspired committed local people to give an opportunity to reach as wide a group of people as possible – plunging into it with a full heart all the while.

Long-time Daily Gleaner columnist Wilfred Langmaid is employed by the University of New Brunswick. He resides in Fredericton. His column appears Fridays.


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